“In an age of growing digital commerce and online marketplaces, the resilience and vitality of small brick and mortar retailers stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of local businesses. The Retail Alliance /Main Street America study delves into the world of these small retail establishments, recognizing their significance as cornerstones of communities and the broader retail ecosystem.”
Tropical storm Ophelia couldn’t dampen the spirits of the nearly 200 Coastal Virginia business leaders and members of the retail-curious entrepreneurial community who attended the much-anticipated inaugural Virginia Retail Matters event held in September at the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Hotel.
After a relaxed luncheon the main presentation included the findings of an exclusive State of Retail report, a major study that was commissioned by Retail Alliance and conducted in partnership with Main Street America, an organization that’s leading the movement to strengthen communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
Matthew Wagner, (photo at top) chief program officer at the National Main Street Center, guided attendees through the report, taking a deep dive into an analysis of current and emerging retail and consumer trends, sales statistics, characteristics of the retail trade in Virginia, and recommendations for building resilient businesses. These insights were blended with national and state findings from their Main Street America survey of micro and small brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S.
The event also included an insightful 2024 Legislative Outlook presented by lobbyists Jodi Roth, director of government affairs for the Virginia Retail Merchants Association, and Kate Baker, President of Two Capitols Consulting. Their sneak peek provided insights into what the coming year might hold in terms of legislation and issues impacting the retail community.
The information presented at the State of Retail event reaffirmed the important role that small businesses play in supporting the overall health of our communities. The comprehensive, eye-opening 120-page report that attendees received is a toolkit of sorts; it’s a guide to thriving in today’s retail environment.
There’s much more to explore in the report. Fortunately, hard copies, as well as a PDF version of the report can be purchased via the Retail Alliance website.
To quote one of the report’s memorable lines: “Local retail shopping is more than just a transaction, it’s at the foundation of our civic life.”